An Introduction to Cricut Crafting with Paper and Cardstock

When you first get your Cricut or other digital cutting machine out of the box it can be a little daunting. Not just learning the different functionality, dials and getting to grips with the design software but also what materials you should use for each project.

Note: If you are still trying to decide which machine would be best for your needs then it'd be good to check out this post first. It gives an overview of different options, their benefits and price points

In this blog series I’m going to look at the main crafting materials, when they should be used and what variations are best for which crafts. This post will focus on cardstock (which is just a fancy word for card).

For vinyl options, make sure you check out my previous posts on adhesive vinyl and heat transfer vinyl.

What can I do with card on my cutting machine?

Card is one of the most versatile materials you can use with your Cricut machine. It can be cut, shaped, printed on, engraved, embossed and curled. To name just a few! Below is a breakdown of the main options and what you might want to make with them.


Your cutting machine can, as you’d obviously expect, cut designs out of both card and paper. You design your cut on a computer, tablet or phone and then the Cricut, or other machine, will cut the design out of your chosen material. This could be anything from card bunting, a stencil or shapes such as spirals to make your own 3D paper flowers.

Note: If paper flowers are your thing, Design Space currently have 10 free spiral flower templates available. Have a read of this blog post for more information!

Cricut design templates

This is one of the best things about digital cutting machines in my opinion. You can design something on its software, 'flatten' it so the machine knows which bits you want printing and which bits are to be cut and then send the design to print out via your ordinary household printer. After it has printed you can feed it into your cutting machine and it will cut the design out. For example I made these tickets as little wedding favours.

Wedding ice cream tickets

Everything else!

Beyond its ability to cut card and paper, you can also purchase additional blades and add-ons which can increase your Cricut’s crafting abilities. These tools could include perforation, wavy, engraving, scoring and debossing/embossing to name a few.

What’s the difference between paper and card?

The short answer is thickness. The longer answer that it's not quite as simple as thin material equals paper and thick material equals card.

Paper and cardstock are measured in GSM or grams per square metre. Below 100gsm is classed as paper, such as office printer paper (80-90gsm). Anything above 100gsm is classed as light cardstock. Ordinary household printers can cope with cardstock up to around 280gsm. Over 300gsm would be classed as thick card.

My Top Tips for Paper and Cardstock

So now you have the specifics of how you can work with paper and cardstock on your cutting machine, here are my top tips to get you started:

Cutting mats. As you can imagine, the thinner your material the less sticky you want your cutting mat. Otherwise you might not be able to remove your cut designs in one piece! For paper you really need to use a blue ‘light grip’ mat. For light to normal cardstock you can use the green ‘standard grip’ mat.

Blue cutting mat
Ideal for more fragile cuts such as paper
Green cutting mat
Ideal for cardstock and vinyl

Peeling your cut from the mat. From my experience paper and card is a bit trickier to remove from the cutting mat than vinyl options. If it isn’t done right then the paper can curl and be impossible to flatten or correct again. The technique I’ve found which works best to avoid this is to hold your design at one edge or corner and slowly bend the mat away until it is removed.

Bending the cutting mat

Print and cut material thickness. If you want to use the print and cut feature you want a card or paper which is less than 280gsm so that your printer doesn’t struggle to pull it through.

Set your dial correctly. Paper can simply be cut on the ‘Paper’ setting. For light cardstock (around 220gsm) I use the ‘Iron On +’ setting (controversial, I know!). Heavier card (around 280gsm) I’d recommend the ‘Light Cardstock’ setting. If it’s heavier cardstock still then I’d recommend the next notch up ‘Light Cardstock +’ or ‘Cardstock’. If you’re unsure you could always try a little test cut before the real thing.

Weeding, only when necessary. Generally I have found that weeding paper or card cuts isn’t necessary. I tend to simply peel away the ‘excess’ card using the technique explained above. Then I follow the same process and peel away the cut. If you do find you need to weed out small pieces then you can use the same process you would with a vinyl cut, gently using the weeder to pick out the pieces individually. If you are finding that you are needing to weed an awful lot, try upping your cut setting by one notch.

Hopefully this introduction to using paper and cardstock with your cutting machine has been useful and you are now raring to go with your paper/card based crafts! If you have any questions, drop me a comment on my Facebook and Instagram pages and I'll get back to you as soon as I can!

Don't forget to share your makes in the comments section there too - I'd love to see how you get on!

Happy Crafting!

Wedding advice and bucket lists
Paper flowers

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